A "Fix" for Windows XP Movie Maker 2.1 Artifacts

A few posts ago I described a situation in which Windows Movie Maker running on Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2 leaves persistent video 'artifacts' on the computer display after it has closed (or crashed). Today I found a way to fix this problem, for a certain definition of 'fix'. This trick probably applies to XP Home as well.

As far as I can tell this problem arises if Windows Movie Maker [WMM] crashes while you are selecting a menu item in the program. The crash leaves the menu item behind in video memory/buffer. Even if you start the program again or use other programs, this rectangle remains on your screen, obscures items underneath, and generally annoys you.

What WMM appears to do [and this is an update of the original version of this post] is corrupt that part of the memory which displays menu items. I found that turning off the "fade" settings in the Performance section of the Advanced tab of the System control panel seems to solve the problem of fresh menu items getting trapped in this memory space.

You can then erase retained data from the display by switching your display settings. For example, if you switch from Highest color to Medium then the screen refresh that this triggers will erase the artifact. You can then switch back to the previous setting. Artifacts will not, hopefully re-appear. Obviously you could restart your system to flush the screen memory but that is often inconvenient.

Now you might wonder...

Why I am using Windows Movie Maker (WMM for short) if the program crashes?

First of all, in my experience, sooner or later all programs crash, on a PC, on a Mac, on Linux boxes, whatever. The question is, how gracefully do they crash? For example, my favorite web browser, Firefox, sometimes crashes. But it usually crashes very gracefully, retaining knowledge of my open windows and reloading them when I restart the application. Microsoft Word can crash quite gracefully, thanks to its autosave features. In my experience, Adobe Acrobat and Corel Paint Shop Pro do not crash gracefully. When using such apps, save often is the watchword.

The value of WMM to me is the ease with which you can slap together a video. I am about to post one here on the blog that took just a few minutes to assemble in WMM. The interface and controls are logical and the feature set is about right for basic video production if you need web video or basic CD/DVD video. Having said this, I can almost hear the MacAddicts and VideoPhiles snorting in disdain. But I have successfully produced dozens of video clips and many hours of web broadcast video with WMM. The material went together very efficiently and the output worked just fine.

Oh, and the WMM software is free...these days free is not to be snorted at.


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  3. Thanks for the solution to removing those artifacts. In return, I think I can solve your crashing issue. Under Tools...Options...Compatibility, you should see a list of files. That list of files will vary depending on the different computers with different programs installed. If you hover over the list items, look for those files that have a .ax file extension. Removing the check from those files solved my crashing issue.

    If you install new audio or video programs to your computer, you should revisit your Compatibility tab to see if any new files or filters with the .ax extension were added.